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Exclusive Nico Rosberg Q&A: We’ll fight at the front 03 Feb 2010

Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP. Formula One Testing, Day One, Valencia, Spain, Monday 1 February 2010. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day One, Valencia, Spain, Monday 1 February 2010. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Valencia, Spain, Tuesday 2 February 2010. Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01. Formula One Testing, Day One, Valencia, Spain, Monday 1 February 2010. (L to R): Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP with Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes GP Team Principal and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP. Formula One Testing, Day One, Valencia, Spain, Monday 1 February 2010.

Being Nico Rosberg these days is not an easy task. While some envy Rosberg for landing a race drive with Mercedes GP and Michael Schumacher as a team mate, others feel sorry for him for exactly the same reasons. The young German, however, believes he has more than enough talent to compete at the top, even when his closest benchmark is a seven-time world champion…

Q: Nico, signing for Mercedes - and Michael Schumacher’s comeback with the same team - has catapulted you right into a media frenzy. How are you coping with that?
Nico Rosberg:
Well, that’s something I have to get used to, obviously. There is a huge media interest in the team, but as everybody has witnessed it’s also in this particular driver line-up. But that’s something that’s not so difficult to get used to - in the end it’s what you get when you race in Formula One! And besides, it shows how popular the sport and its protagonists are.

Q: You signed with Ross Brawn believing that you’d be racing for Brawn GP, but it turned out you are racing for Mercedes. Was that a welcome surprise?
NR:
I signed with Ross hoping that it would be Mercedes. Of course I didn’t know for sure, but the direction was clear.

Q: Ross said he signed the contract with you quite some time ago. That would mean that Mercedes’ takeover plans were already well developed…
NR:
Yes. So it wasn’t a real surprise for me, but it felt great when it happened as it is never real before it really happens.

Q: Another surprise for you was that you signed thinking Jenson Button would be your team mate, but it turned out it was Michael Schumacher. Was that equally welcome?
NR:
That was a real surprise! It’s unbelievable that he really made this step to comeback - and not with Ferrari but with Mercedes. It was great.

Q: Would you have preferred one over the other?
NR:
You mean between Jenson or Michael? No, not really. Both would have been great. With Michael it is clear that he is a very strong team mate, which could help my career.

Q: Ross said that he hopes Michael will help you to mature. Is that realistic? His long-time Ferrari team mate Rubens Barrichello has made some comments suggesting otherwise…
NR:
I have to say that so far I have not seen anything negative. You need to make your own experiences and not listen to what other people say. I think it is a completely different situation. What I have heard from people who know him is that he is very fair. He’s just somebody who pushes very hard to be one step ahead, but still in fairness. That’s what I’ve heard.

Q: Ross also said that he doesn’t want Michael to dominate because it would mean the other driver is not performing. But on the other hand it seems to be in Michael’s nature to dominate. How will you deal with Ross’s expectations and Michael’s nature?
NR:
That is not an issue at the moment. We are very early in testing and I believe that whatever Michael does, I will do a good job. From that point of view I don’t see any issue about the future.

Q: That all sounds as if you know him quite well. How long have you known each other?
NR:
Not for long. We just got to know each other a bit more during the test now. It’s not a childhood friendship…

Q: Do you feel more pressure?
NR:
At the moment the pressure has not really gone up - not right here, right now. But yes, the pressure I put on myself is always there. We are still in the early days and have to see where the car is and how everything will develop, but for sure towards the start of the season things will probably look different.

Q: Let’s talk about the MGP W01. You’ve had some experience of difficult cars, so was the new Mercedes a real relief?
NR:
Again, it’s still early days. Sometimes we would arrive with Williams at a test thinking that we were in good shape, so to make a statement would be very premature. I sure hope that I don’t have to experience a not-so-great car again, but where we are exactly is impossible to say, as every team is trying different things in terms of fuel loads. Probably next week in Jerez the fog will lift and we will get a better picture of where we are. But for sure we will be at the front - I hope!

Q: Does it feel that way?
NR:
Yes.

Q: You didn’t leave Valencia because you wanted to see how Michael gets on during Wednesday’s running. What do you expect to see?
NR:
He has so much experience that there are bits and pieces that you can pick up. I am interested to see what is going on, just like he did yesterday.

Q: You’ve got the looks, you’ve got the brains, you’ve got the pedigree, but do you have the speed?
NR:
We will see.

Q: You must have some idea about what you want to achieve this season. What would be the minimum and what would be the maximum? Are you aiming for the title?
NR:
This here is a longer term thing. I’ve signed a multi-year deal, which is somewhere between two and 10 years. Of course my first goal must be to win races. In comparison to Michael? I want to have a good working relationship with him so that we push each other on the track.

Q: Has the team told you what they expect you to deliver? They must see their future lies with you…
NR:
Well, with Michael planning to race for three years he’s also the future of the team at the moment. We need to wait and see. I am sure they expect me to pick up some things from Michael and to develop myself in the time that I’m here, as well as do well. What is ‘do well’? I don’t know yet.